2 dead, hundreds flee as Florita lashes Luzon
NAGUILIAN, Isabela, Philippines — A passenger bus skidded off a slippery road here before crashing into an electric post and landing on its side, killing two people and injuring six others during the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Florita (international name: Ma-on) on Tuesday.
Maj. Junneil Perez, Naguilian police chief, said the bus came from Tuguegarao City and was heading to Metro Manila when it tipped over, narrowly missing a roadside house in Barangay San Manuel around 11 a.m.
In an interview, Perez identified the fatalities as Oliver Corpuz and his wife Myrna, both from Diffun town, Quirino province. The driver, conductor, and four other passengers were taken to a hospital.
Florita dumped heavy rains in most parts of Luzon, displacing at least 150 families (500 people) in Cagayan province.
The heavy rainfall triggered widespread flooding in at least 10 low-lying villages in Cagayan, according to the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Rogelio Sending Jr., Cagayan provincial information officer, said the displaced families were from the towns of Baggao, Gonzaga, Gattaran, Lal-lo and Iguig.
He said strong winds uprooted trees in Tuguegarao and toppled power lines, cutting off the supply of electricity to 15 of 28 towns in Cagayan.
At least 76 residents in low-lying areas in Isabela’s coastal town of Divilacan sought refuge in temporary shelters due to the threat of flooding, according to Constante Foronda, Isabela provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer.
Flooding in the City of Ilagan rendered the Baculod Bridge impassable.
Florita made landfall in the vicinity of Maconacon town in Isabela at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 3 was hoisted over mainland Cagayan, the northeastern portion of Isabela, the northern portion of Ilocos Norte, Apayao and the southern portion of Babuyan Islands as of 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Mark Timbal, spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), advised those who have leisure travel plans in storm-affected areas to postpone their trips.
“Some local government units might close some roads as a precautionary measure to avoid accidents, especially in areas prone to flooding and landslides,” Timbal said.
The Philippine Army said it mobilized its 5th Infantry Division based in Isabela for disaster response in Cagayan and Apayao, while its ready reserve units in the region were on alert.
The NDRRMC has around P848 million funds on standby for storm victims as part of the quick response fund, while some 480,000 family food packs worth P283 million are on the stockpile.
In the Cordillera, 29 families (116 people) in Abra and Mountain Province sought refuge in various evacuation centers due to the threat of flash floods and landslides, reports from DSWD in the region showed.
Classes at all levels, both in public and private schools, were suspended in Cagayan and Isabela.
In Dagupan City, the elementary schools in the villages of Malued, Bacayao Sur, Carael, Calmay and Lomboy were also submerged in floodwater, according to Aguedo Fernandez, city schools superintendent.
Classes at all school levels in Dagupan were suspended on Tuesday due to the flooding that was worsened by the high tide, inundating the city’s central business district.
In Pampanga province, high tide, monsoon rains and water draining from the upper Pampanga River flooded 26 villages in Masantol town and eight villages in Macabebe town, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
Floodwater was up to 1.52 meters (5 feet) high in Macabebe’s Barangay Tacasan, San Gabriel, and San Esteban.
As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, classes at all levels in public and private schools were suspended in Pampanga’s 16 towns and two cities.
Water from the Pampanga River overtopped the banks and spilled into riverside areas in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, and in Candaba and Apalit, Pampanga, according to the Pampanga River Flood Forecasting Center.
Classes were also suspended in the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur due to incessant rain.
In Southern Luzon, classes in public and private schools in Camarines Sur, Camrines Norte and Albay provinces in Bicol region and Quezon and Laguna provinces in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region were suspended on Tuesday.
—WITH REPORTS FROM FRANCES MANGOSING, YOLANDA SOTELO, KIMBERLIE QUITASOL, TONEtTE OREJAS, JOANNA ROSE AGLIBOT, GREG REFRACCION, JUN MALIG, CARMELA REYES-ESTROPE, ARMAND GALANG, JOHN MICHAEL MUGAS, MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES AND DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.